Jars of clay

Millie Florence Jones – 9/13/1926 – 1/12/2023
James Richardson Mattocks Jr. – 7/20/1943 – 2/8/2023
Helen Dobbins Younts – 3/8/1921 – 2/28/2023
Linda Gail Macy Venable – 12/18/1942 – 3/2/2023
Avis Logan Rees – 1/31/1929 – 4/18/2023
Barbara “Bobbie” Redding Scruggs – 5/18/1939 – 6/1/2023
John Mason Glenn – 12/15/1952 – 6/25/2023
Geraldine Young Dean – 3/15/1932 – 6/27/2023
Robert “Bob” Chapman Miller – 12/7/1943 – 6/27/2023
Valeria Mendenhall Thayer – 5/18/1927 – 7/5/2023
Stanley Theodore “Ted” Wright – 8/29/1960 – 7/17/2023
Donald Lee Brower Sr. – 11/29/1926 – 8/14/2023
Terry “Chad” Hinshaw – 7/8/1978 – 9/28/2023
Pat Young Brower – 11/5/1938 – 10/5/2023
Thomas Eugene “Gene” Terrell – 10/2/1926 – 11/20/2023
Pauline Rozella Shipwash – 12/19/1932 – 12/2/2023
George Herman York – 6/26/1931 – 12/6/2023
Ruby Cashion Wright – 9/26/1931 – 1/2/2024
Eldora Haworth Terrell – 10/4/1929 – 1/7/2024

Good morning, Friends!

We’ve already spent a lot of time, with our candle lighting and open worship. So, I just want to say a few things.

All these people – people we deeply loved – will be greatly missed.

They brought a special light to our lives. They raised us. They taught us. They showed us the way.

They inspired us. They taught us, how to pray and how to sing.

They comforted us, when we were hurt or crying. They told us to get back up again, when we fell or were ashamed.

Whether we were related by blood to them, or not, they were our spiritual parents, the people we looked up to. They supported us, for so many years.

I’m going to read you a Scripture, part of a letter which Paul wrote, to a church he cared a lot about.

We are not preaching about ourselves. Our message is that Jesus Christ is Lord. He also sent us to be your servants.

The Scriptures say, “God commanded light to shine in the dark.” Now God is shining in our hearts to let you know that his glory is seen in Jesus Christ.

We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us.

We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again. We face death every day because of Jesus.

Our bodies show what his death was like, so his life can also be seen in us. This means that death is working in us, but life is working in you.

2 Corinthians 4:5-12 (Contemporary English Version)

The people we’re remembering today were our light. That’s why we lit these candles. They’re a symbol that we remember them. And they’re a symbol, that we don’t want their light to be gone from our world.

We know, of course, that these candles won’t last forever, and we’ll have to blow them out before we leave today. But it’s the idea that counts – we don’t want to forget the light that they gave to us.

Each one of them was a special light, a light that can’t be replaced. We have to carry that light, carefully, in our own hearts, so that their light won’t be forgotten or lost.

And each one of us carries our own light, the light of our own life, as well.

It’s such a big thing, to carry the light. We can forget about it, if we’re careless or if we get too busy with other things. We can block the light, if we get too angry or hateful.

But the light within us never quite goes away. Because it’s not just our own light. Deep inside of us, every one, there’s a spark of light which was planted there by God.

It grows when we learn more about Jesus. The light really shines in our hearts, when we listen to the Holy Spirit. It shines radiantly, when we pray and when we give thanks to God.

So, the light never completely goes away. But it’s up to us, to help the light within us to shine.

All these people who we’re remembering today were light-bringers. They lived what Jesus said in the gospel, when Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill can’t be hidden. . .Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your work, and give glory to your Father in heaven. . .”

But Paul tells us today, “We are like fragile clay jars in which this treasure is carried.” Even though the real light comes from God, from Jesus, from the Holy Spirit, we are all so fragile.

Any little thing – an illness, an accident, or simply age – can bring our earthly lives to an end.

That’s happened, to the people we’re remembering today. But part of why we remember them – part of why we loved them – is that they invested their lives in things that matter.

What matters isn’t how rich or famous we are. What matters is that we let God’s light shine from us, during the time we have here on earth.

When we die, no one’s going to care about the size of our bank account, or any of those things people spend so much money on.

What we remember, is the life they lived, the joy they shared, the time they spent with us, the sacrifices they made. We remember the lessons they taught, the songs they sang, the wisdom they shared.

We remember their light, the light of their lives.

And it’s not enough just to remember them, these people we honor here today. It’s up to us, to live in a way that the light shines in our lives, too.

It’s our responsibility, now more than ever, to try to live with the love our friends had. To share what they shared. To live, not selfishly, but fully and wisely and generously and joyfully.

Anyone can be selfish. These were great people. We need to try to be like them, every day.

And as Paul says, we’re like fragile clay jars. We carry this tremendous treasure in vessels which are so breakable.

Paul himself lived an extraordinary life, just as Jesus did. And so did most of Jesus’ friends.

They were saints. They were giants in the earth, as it says in the Bible. They were ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives.

They felt the light of God within them. And they lived the invitation to share that light with everyone. And so can we.

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